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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Notes from the CHAIN re:Action Forum (part 1) 

Alan Gilbert proves Tony Torn is Karl Rove's doppelganger. Or Karl Rove is Tony Torn's doppelgenger.

Billionaires for Bush highlight class division in the public sphere, an issue pathologically avoided by the Left. At the RNC 2000 in Philly, they were known as Billionaires for Bush or Gore. It’s obvious why they dropped the Gore, but worth noting that they didn’t pick up the Kerry in 2004.

David Rees has utilized a Pentagon creation (the internet) to critique its actions. "Get Your War On" is a clip art imperial satire phenomenon that caught fire online, resulting in a number of books & a place in the mainstream via the hipster rag Rolling Stone.

Music is a possible means of reconciling of the abuses of empire & the suffering consequence. For example, Billy Bang incorporates the music of Vietnam into his jazz compositions. On a wider scale, these can be dangerous appropriations. Are we here to share or steal? Eminem has been this century's poster boy for the ongoing tug-of-war.

Collagist Theodore Harris uses the recurring image of the Capitol Building displayed upside down. Its inversion suggests the dome is holding a weight inside that cannot sustain.

Mission: "Record the time in which we live."

The Capitol Building drops from the bottom of a Bank of America check. The Capitol drops from the bottom of capital.

Harris is also using the inverted Pentagon in his newer work, hovering over collaged figures like a wounded guillotine.

Tracie Morris opens with a question from Langston Hughes…"or will it explode?"

For some, Philadelphia does not bring to mind the Liberty Bell or Declaration of Independence. It's the city that murdered MOVE by fire & imprisoned Mumia Abu-Jamal.

On appropriation: after the bombing of the MOVE house, the Philadelphia Police made T-shirts that read "Welcome to Philadelphia." Beneath the phrase, there was an image of the helicopter that dropped the explosive device on the roof. What began as an in-joke of ha-ha brutality, eventually became a means of telling the MOVE story. The organization reproduced the shirts w/ the same slogan & image. They simply added a paragraph of text under the image telling the story of the massacre. Sale of the T-shirts have become a significant fundraising & information outreach tool for MOVE & the International Concerned Friends & Family for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Field songs served as specific coded instructions. Directions. Maps. (e.g.- MacIntosh County Shouters- "Move Daniel. Move Daniel.")

The black political artist as metaphor, as secret, is an idea transformed by the likes of Russell Simmons & P-Diddy, specifically w/ their voter mobilization campaigns like the "Vote or Die" movement. Their wealth transcends the cultural demand that they speak in code. "I'm so rich I can afford to complain" in direct political language, making for an odd association between luxury lifestyle & political activism.


- Frank Sherlock


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